Wonderful moments of 2021
Hodge Podge by Charlie Hodge
Okay, it’s pretty much a ‘gimme’ for most Canadians that 2021 was a year happily relegated to the garburator. (Do they even make those things anymore?)
Like a bad first date, 2021 is an event most would prefer to forget – quickly. However, as an over-the-edge optimist, I annually do my best to diminish the damage done by squeezing whatever good I can out of the tube of tribulations of the past year. I try and remember the good times, the bright moments, the people that made me smile.
First and foremost, I look to the positive health report – I’m still here and despite a compromised immune system – survived the nasty pandemic. I suppose that’s the silver lining to a non-social existence.
I am thankful more today than ever for the amazing technology that provides us with Facebook, Zoom and other online communication formats. Not only does it allow many to actually work from isolation – it connects family and friends. That semi-forced expansion of time online has resulted in my renewing of contact with a handful of long lost friends from the past – certainly a positive impact.
For many, the isolation meant a renewed joy or discovery of a hobby, getting around to fixing or completing the many ‘to do’s on our ‘to do’ list, and/or settling into a cozy chair and reading a good book. I managed to do all of them – and best of all – managed to finish writing a book.
After five years of research, self-induced stress, and professional procrastination Lost Souls of Lakewood – the History and Mystery of Blaylock’s Mansion finally became a physical reality. At last my publishing pregnancy had resulted in a physical entity – a product I could hold in my hand and imbed into my brain. After five plus years of building my communication vehicle it was nice to see it finally get out of the garage.
I will always remember the satisfying moment when a delivery truck pulled into the yard in late May and dropped off a pallet full of books. It was the largest wrapped present I’d ever received and akin to Christmas in the spring. I was one excited recipient and literally grabbed a coffee, sat on top of the pile of books for a few moments and simply absorbed the experience and emotion. Ironically, it’s hard to put into words the feelings of holding your own book in your hands.
Admittedly, the joy was somewhat stifled by not being able to share the experience with my dear friend Dan McGauley who hired and inspired my crafting of the book. We had visualized and analyzed how our project would look and read when completed. We had anticipated the joy of watching it sell and signing books together – yet tragically Dan died while the book was in printing stage. Still – with every book signing I felt and feel him next to me.
The book launch in June was overwhelming with friends and total strangers flocking to Mosaic Books that day and showing their support. Rewarding, heartwarming, humbling.
However, the bonus to the book completion and signings is the lesson I did not anticipate – discovering what a joy bookstore owners are.
I suppose I should not be surprised however as I talked to bookshop owners and managers across the country one by one I had to pinch myself. The heavy majority are gentle, supportive and passionate people who clearly love what they do, the people they serve, and books themselves. Particularly so with British Columbia bookstores.
I cannot gush enough praise for the kindness shown by Alicia Neil and Mosaic Books here in town for setting the bar. They truly are superb supporters of local authors. However, as I reached out to other store owners in Nelson, Trail, Vancouver Island and elsewhere I continued to marvel at the positive energy and gentle nature.
It’s simply a reflection of folks doing what they love. They have found their niche or their sweet spot for a chosen career – and it shines through. I cannot say enough kind words about Cricket at Otter Books in Nelson or Brad at Crockett Books in Trail.
While I cannot heap the same praise on most other aspects of the publishing industry, suffice to say that bookstore owners and librarians are candles in the night.
Of course there were other bright spots in my 2021 – but space and time dictates that’s a tale for next week.